THE Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, on Thursday said necessary agricultural activities have kicked off to ensure bumper harvest in 2017.
The Minister made this known while responding to questions from journalists when he visited Dizengoff/ Phinada Farms in Bwari.
According to him, some agricultural activities have kicked off in Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano states and other states in the southeast, which will ensure bumper harvest in the country.
He also explained that the alarm of famine was raised by the Presidency following the high rate at which neighbouring countries storm the Nigerian market in the northwest to buy off grains.
His words: “We are going to have bumper harvest this year given the statistics we have in Kebbi, Jigawa and Kano, particularly the northwest and in southeast.
“There are a lot of agricultural activities going on and we want to assure Nigerians that there is nothing to fear. What the Senior Special Assistant to the President said was because of the drought in the sub-region, a lot of people from other countries are coming to the markets in Nigeria to buy grains, which is an opportunity for farmers to scale up production.
“I can assure that if the farmers in Kebbi, Jigawa are empowered to farm one or two hectares with the expected yield, they are going to multiply and be at to cultivate and will produce enough that will always ensure there will be food for Nigerians.”
Speaking further, Senator Lokpobiri said “there is no statistics that there will be famine in January, the Presidency only said that people are coming from other countries to buy our goods, and as a government, we are also trying to buy and government don’t just come into the market to buy, government comes to buy to ensure there is a guarantee price so that farmers are not discouraged by low patronage.
“Government for now is trying to see how we can buy and store because all our silos are virtually empty, saying as a government, we can’t stop people from coming to buy from Nigeria.”
When asked what the government was putting on ground to boost production, the minister said “the Anchor Borrower Scheme is already guaranteeing one million metric tons of paddies in Kebbi State alone, government is already making credit facilities and farm inputs available through the Anchor Borrower Scheme.
“We are also investing in processing, very soon, we are going to launch over 100 small scale rice mill that will be distributed in the rural cooperatives to enable farmers not only harvest but process, and they can get much more value from rice production.”